As a spin-off to my slow-cooker turkey breast soup blog, I want to share a recent recipe I’ve been having fun with.
Like the soup recipe, I still coat the defrosted turkey breast in pesto and cook it in the slow-cooker. What’s different on this one is that I throw in whatever vegetables I have on hand (I’ve done onion and different squash varietals, red peppers, carrots, etc.), add in just enough broth to help their flavors mingle and keep them from sticking, then, I serve them on top of fresh kale. The heat from the meat and veggies wilts the kale just enough.
I add a little Israeli couscous for my son since he needs the additional carbs, but we don’t.
Using spinach or kale as a rice or pasta substitute is a great, easy way to completely revamp the nutritional profile of your meal. Between the fiber and the overall nutritional makeup of dark, leafy greens, you’ll stay full longer, and avoid unnecessary starches. You don’t have to completely change your diet to eat more cleanly; just make easy swaps like this one.
This meal is great all-around because it’s ready whenever we finish our whirlwind day and are ready to eat, and it’s family friendly. Eating well as a rule is easier than trying out a fad-diet. It’s just too hard to make a special, healthy meal for one person. You need options, like this one, that everyone can enjoy. Eating well should taste really good.
Here’s a delicious, healthy recipe for you. It’s full of the things your body needs, and light on what it doesn’t. This dish has protein, loads of veggies, whole grain, citrus and fiber, while budgeting fat, sodium and sugar content. The bit of kick is an added bonus for your metabolism and circulation, if you can take the heat.
This meal is easy to make and convenient to prepare since you can make the salad ahead of time and let it chill while the pork marinates, leaving only the final step of grilling the pork loin. I knew I’d be in the gym all day, so it was nice to have almost everything done already when I got home. We will definitely be adding this one to the dinner rotation.
Pork loin rub
- 0.3-0.5lb/pp pork loin
Ingredients below are per each pound of pork loin.
- 2 Tbsp chili powder
- 1 Tbsp smoked paprika
- 1 tsp garlic salt
- 1 tsp cumin
- 1 tsp black pepper
- Dash of cayenne pepper
- 2-3 tsp olive oil (just enough to make a paste)
Cucumber, black bean, quinoa cold salad
- 1 chopped cucumber
- 1 chopped shallot
- 1 chopped, seeded red pepper
- 1 diced, seeded tomato
- 1 chopped avocado (optional)
- Juice of one lime
- 1 can rinsed, drained black beans
- 1 cup prepared quinoa
- 2 Tbsp red wine vinegar
- 2 tsp agave nectar or honey
- 2 tsp olive oil
- 1 tsp Tony Chachere’s creole seasoning
- 1 tsp cumin
- 1 tsp pepper
This recipe combines sweet-heat with some cool lime yogurt and peppery greens. It’s pretty much a party in your mouth. Although, unlike some parties, this one won’t leave you with a hangover. Low fat, low carb, high fiber, high protein, lots of vitamins and even some calcium means you can feel good enjoying every bite.
Jerk pineapple pork chops with black beans, lime yogurt and arugula
- 1 can pineapple chunks in 100% juice
- 1 can crushed pineapple in 100% juice
- 2 stalks of scallions chopped
- 2 tsp dried thyme
- 2 garlic cloves
- 1.5 tsp allspice
- 1/2 de-seeded habanero / 1 de-seeded jalapeno / 1/2 tsp cayenne (choose your heat)
- 4 bone in pork chops
- 1 tsp each salt and pepper
- 1 can black beans
- juice of 1 lime
- 1 tsp agave nectar or honey
- 1 small container of plain yogurt
- bag/bunch of arugula
You know what most people are missing in there diets? Vegetables. (You were hoping I’d say pizza or chocolate, right?)
Somehow, vegetables get a bad wrap when we’re kids, and then we have to learn to love them as we get older. In my opinion, if you don’t think you like most vegetables, you just haven’t had them a way you like them.
Think of vegetables the same way you think of chicken. You don’t like chicken every way it’s served, but you probably like it at least one way.
The great thing about vegetables is that you can pretty much stuff your face with them and, assuming they aren’t fried or doused in butter, your body will only benefit.
From the recipe below, you might conclude that I’m into the Atkins diet, but you would be very wrong.
Our adult bodies don’t need as much starch as our bodies did when we were kids because we aren’t in building-mode anymore; however, carbohydrates are an amazing energy source and should not be completely omitted from your diet.
My approach to carbohydrates is to give them a supporting role rather than a leading role in meals. If I’m having a sandwich, I move all the insides over to one half of the bread. If I’m making pasta, I use a handle full of pasta to a pot full of meat and veggies. Using less noodles isn’t an option in a dish like lasagna because they are part of it’s structure; but, eggplant, zucchini or even portabello mushrooms are sturdy enough to make a delicious, healthy substitute for noodles.
Aside from the positive nutrition exchange going from noodles to veggies, the switch out also adds flavor and will fill you up faster. Noodles on their own don’t have much flavor, and your body doesn’t have to spend much time processing them during digestion. Vegetables, on the other hand, are full of fiber and flavor on their own.
Below is the exact recipe I used to make this dish last night. I tend to cook based on what’s on hand as opposed to planning out all my recipes. I never know what’s going to look fresh before I head to the store, so I just stock up on meat, vegetables and cheese, and then go from there. The kitchen is like my chemistry lab, but I get to wear cute aprons instead of a lab coat and goggles.
Variations for this recipe include, but are not limited to:
- doing a quick pan-fry with your eggplant slices instead of roasting them (be sure to blot, and use minimal breadcrumbs/flour – better yet, use almond flour);
- using zucchini/portabellos instead of/in addition to eggplant;
- adding other vegetables (mushrooms or carrots would be yummy);
- using mozzarella on top instead of or in addition to the parmesan;
- using another low-cal, low-sugar type of marinara – I only had 1/2 cup of prepared sauce in my fridge, so I had to add the other ingredients;
- omitting the meat.
Eggplant (Noodleless) Lasagna
- 2 large eggplants
- 8 oz ground meat
- 1/2 cup tomato-basil / marinara sauce
- 1 can tomato paste
- 1 can diced tomatoes
- 1 cup ricotta
- 1 cup cottage cheese
- 3 egg whites
- 1 cup parmesan
- 1 Tbsp. dried Italian herbs
- 1 cup frozen spinach (partially defrosted)
- 2 tsp minced garlic
Preheat oven to 400/204.
Slice eggplant into 1/4 inch thick slices. Heavily spray a cookie sheet (you might need more than one) with olive oil. Spread your eggplant along the pan(s) and spray the top side with olive oil as well. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake for 25 mins, flipping the eggplant halfway through the time. I spray the eggplant rather than tossing it in oil because eggplant is very absorbent and can soak up more oil than you want instead of being coated evenly when tossing.
Cook your ground meat, and add it to the tomato sauce, diced tomatoes and tomato paste. Stir and cook to simmering.
Combine ricotta, cottage cheese, 1/2 cup of grated parmesan, 3 egg whites, herbs, spinach and garlic.
Spray your lasagna dish and layer as follows: Half the tomato sauce mixture, layer of eggplant, ricotta mixture, eggplant, sauce, remaining cheese. If you have enough eggplant, you can do more layers and just ration the other mixtures accordingly.
Bake for 30 mins, or until the sauce is bubbly and the top cheese is a bit toasty.
I’ve been on a quinoa kick recently, and last night I tested it as a risotto substitute. I’m happy to say it was a very easy success.
I was able to get my hands on a butternut squash last week, so I used that and some arugula in the risotto. All told, we had a healthy serving of veggies, protein, calcium, fiber and a little healthy starch and fat.
The sweetness of the squash and the pepperiness of the arugula paired very well, and the parmesan added creamy deliciousness without fighting the other flavors. I added a little salt and pepper during cooking, but it may not even need it. The ingredients came together to take care of all of it perfectly.
We served the risotto next to a couple lean ribeyes. My husband might be the huge Jimmy Buffett fan of the house, but I’m the one with the carnivorous habits. Last night was great though because he really loved his steak, too. I’ve switched up my marinade, and he mentioned how much he liked it, and how it didn’t need any A1 sauce, multiple times.
We were both proud members of the clean plate club last night.
For the steak marinade, I mixed equal parts good balsamic vinegar and worcestershire sauce with a little dijon mustard, a small squeeze of agave nectar (could also use honey) and garlic pepper. I only had about 3 hours to marinate them, but it proved to be enough time for all the flavors to meld.
This recipe serves 4 as a side, or 2 as a vegetarian meal.
Butternut Squash Quinoa Risotto
- 2.5 cups cubed butternut squash
- 2 Tbsp olive oil
- 1 garlic clove minced
- 1/3 cup diced onion
- 1 cup dry,uncooked quinoa
- 1 large handful / half a bag of fresh arugula
- 2.5 cups chicken broth
- 3/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan
Cube and steam squash until it is almost mashable.
In a large skillet, combine oil, garlic, onion and quinoa over low-medium heat. Stir continuously for about 4 minutes, or until you can smell the quinoa starting to toast. Add squash and arugula, along with about 3 turns each of your salt and pepper grinders. Turn the heat up to medium, and continue stirring for another 2 minutes. Add half of your broth, and cook until all of it is absorbed. Heat the remaining broth and add 1 cup more of it to the dish. Stir regularly, and begin mashing up the squash with your wooden stirring spoon. Leave just enough unmashed to give it a little texture. Once all of the broth is absorbed, turn the heat back down to low, add the cheese and stir. Finally, add the remaining (hot) 1/4 cup of broth and stir until the risotto is creamy. Serve hot, and enjoy!